Women who have surgery to treat cataracts are 60 percent less likely to suffer an early death, a study has found.
The study’s researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found they are also less likely to die from vascular, infectious, neurological and pulmonary diseases and cancer.
Experts say this might come down to the fact that women who receive the operation can function more safely than women living with cataracts.
Researchers are hopeful that the new report might lead to answers about how cataract surgery lessens women’s chances of developing potentially-fatal diseases and dying early.
A new report from the University of California Los Angeles has found that a woman who does not receive a surgery to treat a cataract has a higher chance of an early death (file photo)
For the study, researchers accessed data collected from 1993 to 2015 for a clinical trial called the Women’s Health Initiative (WIH).
The researchers analyzed the records of 74,044 women who were 65 or older who had cataracts, and they found 41,735 of them had operations to treat the cloudy spots on their eyes.
About half of the participants were smokers, and most said they consumed less than seven alcoholic beverages a week and had a BMI of less than 25.
Cataracts are spots in people’s eyes that cause their vision to be impaired, and they can make it difficult for someone to read, see other people’s faces or drive a car. Having cataracts in both eyes can make your surroundings seem foggy.
HOW DOES CATARACT SURGERY WORK?
When a person undergoes cataract surgery the natural lens on their eye, which has a cloudy spot on it, is removed.
A doctor replaces it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens.
The intraocular lens becomes a permanent part of the person’s eye.
However, some additional eye problems cause some patients with cataracts not to be able to have artificial lenses implanted.
But doctors can still remove their clouded lenses, and these patients can see using eyeglasses or contacts.
During the surgery, the area around one’s eye is numbed with a local anesthetic, but people stay awake during the operation.
The operation generally does not require a hospital stay.
The risks of the procedure include infection and bleeding.
While a few days of discomfort after the surgery are normal, people usually heal within eight weeks.
For people who need cataract surgeries in both eyes, doctors treat one eye at a time and perform the second surgery after the first eye treated has healed.
People have cataract surgery to have the clouded lens on their eye removed, and a doctor replaces it with an artificial lens that is clear.
The study’s researchers concluded that one explanation for cataract surgery recipients’ greater chances of survival might be because they have a higher socioeconomic status that affords them greater healthcare.
The study said: ‘This possibility is suggested by the higher odds of cataract surgery in WHI participants who underwent routine mammography and in those with health insurance.’
In addition to this, previous research has associated receiving cataract surgery with a lower risk of falling and fracturing bones.
‘Cataract surgery may improve overall functioning, which may be a potential mechanism to explain the association with decreased mortality,’ the report said.
While the study acknowledges that one of its limitations is that it only focuses on women, females have worse eye health than males.
In the US blindness affects about seven percent more women. Additionally 33 percent more women are vision-impaired, and cataracts plague women more often than men.
The study’s authors said more work needs to be done to determine why receiving cataract surgery impacts women’s chances of dying from certain illnesses.
Their analysis was the first to link cataract surgery to a woman’s risk of specific causes of death.
‘Further study of the interplay of cataract surgery, systemic disease, and disease-related mortality would be informative for improved patient care,’ the report said.